The Best Stuff We've Read This Week

Josh Clark

The Torture Colony. Easily the most interesting nonfiction account of anything that we've read in a long time, Bruce Falconer submits a lengthy report in a 2008 issue of The American Scholar about the Colonia Dignidad, a transplanted German evangelical religious cult that set up shop in Chile in the early 1960s and whose charismatic leader established a violent, dark alliance with the Pinochet dictatorship.

Say Hello to My Little Friend. The approachable science writer Mary Roach writes in Outside Magazine about a topic SYSK covered in an episode, tantsas, or shrunken heads made by the Shuar people of the equatorial Amazon. Roach investigates one 20th-century dealer of tantsas and uncovers the fraudulent world of counterfeit shrunken heads.

Archaeology: The milk revolution. Writing in the journal Nature, Nick Curry gives us a peek at the new type of multidisciplinary approach to the investigation of the ancient human diaspora through the analysis of genetic traits, in this case the evolution of a genetic mutation that allowed us to digest milk as adults, which may have given anyone carrying the trait a leg up in populating the neolithic world.

The Deadly Choices at Memorial. New York Times Magazine reporter Sheri Fink delivers a report compiled over two and a half years of investigation into the numerous cases of euthanasia that took place at Memorial Hospital in New Orleans when the facility was cut off from power and aid.